Ron on the Radio (Ron Miksha)   

WWFL  

I was in my early 20s in the fall of 1978 when I dropped by at the WWFL studio for the first time. I was a young commercial honey-bee farmer and my youngest brother was living with me. I sent Joe, my 15-year-old brother, off to Groveland High School. There he met Larry Freeman, a high school senior, who was working for WWFL(-AM 1340) after school hours. One afternoon, when my bee work was done for the day, Joe and I stopped by the station while Larry was working. Larry gave us a tour. Then the station director, Tony Crane, came in unexpectedly. I introduced myself. Tony said, “Ron, you have an amazing radio voice. Do you want a job?” “Sure.” It was set. I’d start the next week and take evenings, following Larry’s afternoon shifts. Maybe I had “an amazing radio voice”, but more likely, my timing was perfect. It was the fall of 1978, WWFL was just switching from MOR to Country, and general manager, Andy Douds, had just moved to Clermont to turn the station around and make it profitable. They need young voices that knew Country. WWFL was great to me. Every spring, I took my honey bees north and the managers held a spot for me each fall, when I returned to Florida with my bees. Radio was a fun and interesting sideline, a big change from the hard physical work of moving honey bee hives and boxes during the day. My radio time included counting seconds before the hour, leading up to bringing in the newswire, tearing news sheets from the big drum in the engineering room, reading news and making ads. Mostly, I liked spinning the records – half a turn backwards, throw the switch, introduce Dolly, Johnny, and Merle. Mel Tillis lived nearby, between Mascotte and Groveland, a few minutes from the WWFL studio. I’d pretend Mel was listening and I’d spin a tune just for him. South of Clermont, the Bay Lake Boys usually listened to my show. I took to calling myself Ron on the Radio and I was getting call-in fans and song requests. I enjoyed the work so much that I drove over to Tampa, took the FCC exam and became a fully-licensed “Radio Engineer”. That meant that I could fiddle with the electronics, should it be necessary. I thought of going over to Orlando and working for a bigger station, but my honey farm business was growing quickly and I had to make a choice. Radio or Bees? About this time, a honey farm came up for sale north of Montana, in Saskatchewan, Canada. I checked it out during the summer. I was captivated by the big skies, the rugged badlands, and the cool, fresh air. With much regret, after four winters of broadcasting for WWFL, I said goodbye to the crew. 


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